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Audiovisions: Cinema and Television as Entr'actes in History

Siegfried Zielinski
Translated by Gloria Custance
Copyright Date: 1999
Pages: 360
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    The production, distribution, and perception of moving images are undergoing a radical transformation. Ever-faster computers, digital technology, and microelectronic are joining forces to produce advanced audiovision -the media vanishing point of the 20th century. Very little will remain unchanged. The classic institutions for the mediation of film - cinema and television - are revealed to be no more than interludes in the broader history of the audiovisual media. This book interprets these changes not simply as a cultural loss but also as a challenge: the new audiovisions have to be confronted squarely to make strategic intervention possible. Audiovisions provides a historical underpinning for this active approach. Spanning 100 years, from the end of the 19th to the end of the 20th century, it reconstructs the complex genesis of cinema and television as historically relative - and thus finite - cultural forms, focussing on the dynamics and tension in the interaction between the apparatus and its uses. The book is also a plea for 'staying power' in studies of cultural technology and technological culture of film. Essayistic in style, it dispenses with complicated cross references and, instead, is structured around distinct historical phases. Montages of images and text provide supplemental information, contrast, and comment. This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-0356-8
    Subjects: Sociology, Film Studies

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. Preface to the English Edition
    (pp. 7-10)
    Siegfried Zielinski
  4. Orientation At the End of the History of Cinema and Television Prolegomena to a History of Audiovision
    (pp. 11-24)

    The innovation of cinematography in the last decade of the nineteenth century was the expression and media vanishing point of technical, cultural, and social processes that are generally referred to as industrialisation. In the rhythmic projection of photographs arranged on perforated celluloid strips that outwitted human visual perception, in the anonymity of publicly accessible spaces vested with a highly intimate ambience, the human subjects who had been through industrialisation apparently discovered their appropriate and adequate communicative satisfaction. Reproducible dream worlds, staged for the eye and the ear, provided these subjects who had been rushed through the century of the steam...

  5. 1. Vanishing Point - Cinema The Founding Years of Audiovision
    (pp. 25-104)

    The location could not have been more appropriate for the event. Paris, symbol of metropolitan life and backdrop for the cultural dreams of the nations located between Asia and the Americas, hosted the most opulent World Exhibition at the transition from the nineteenth to the twentieth century. Never before held on such an imposing scale, Paris was the scene for staging the globally achieved standards of the means of production: technological, economical, cultural, and political power. Covering an area of some 1,080,000 square meters, magnificent cathedrals of high capitalism were erected along both banks of the Seine, architectural monuments to...

  6. 2. Between the Wars Between the Dispositifs
    (pp. 105-182)

    Pre-war television in Europe came to an abrupt end with the animated appearance of two superstars of global cinema. In the final sequence of Wait Disney’s cartoon, MICKEY’S GALA PREMIERE, the goddess Creta Carbo breathes huskily into the microphone, ‘Ah tank ah go home. I vant to be alone,’ These were the last words to be broadcast from Alexandra Palace, the main BBC transmitting station, at noon on 1 September 1939, before the screens went blank and the medium of television was taken off the air for six years. At 12.10 a.m., the order to dose down was given. Only...

  7. 3. Vanishing Point Television? On the Permeation of Familial Privateness by Televisuality
    (pp. 183-218)

    ‘Television is a means for approaching the goal of possessing the entire sensible world once again in a copy satisfying every sensory organ, the dreamless dream; at the same time it holds the possibility of inconspicuously smuggling into this duplicate world whatever is thought to be advantageous for the real one. The gap between private existence and the culture industry, which had remained as long as the latter did not omnipresently dominate all dimensions of the visible, is now being plugged.” Theodor Adomo wrote this in the early 19505 in hisPrologue to Television.He is referring to the ‘gold...

  8. 4. No Longer Cinema, No Longer Television The Beginning of a New Historical and Cultural Form of the Audiovisual Discourse
    (pp. 219-272)

    The global economy of the 19705 was impacted by the shock of an event which concerned the production of and trade with an energy resource. The rich oil-prodUcing countries of the Near-East threatened to cut off supplies of this elixir of life for the advanced industrial nations in the West, whose economies were (and still are) geared to growth-at-all-costs. Instantly, it became absolutely clear that this most important foundation for continuing expansion of the material and social wealth of the ‘have’ nations was not an unlimited resource, but finite and, moreover, the quantities required by the consumer nations rendered them...

  9. Conclusion Good Machines, Bad Machines For living heterogeneity in the arts of picture and sound - Against psychopathia medialis
    (pp. 273-304)

    Before making HISTOIRE(S) DU CINÉMA,¹ at the end of the 19805, Jean-Luc Gadard tried out the aesthetic conception in the electronic short J’VISSANCE DE LA PAROLE (1988), shamelessly taking full advantage of a commission by the French national telephone system for a commercial. In the prologue, the film-maker is heard voice-off to a picture of the revolving spools of a film editing machine: ‘In the entrails of a dead planet, a worn-out mechanism shudders. Tubes reawaken, emitting a pale vacillating light. Slowly, as if reluctantly, a commutator changes position..’,² - just a nostalgic farewell, so it would seem, to a...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 305-318)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 319-346)
  12. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 347-348)
  13. Index
    (pp. 349-356)